March 6, 2015

The Beauty of Bethnal Green

Bethnal Green in London’s East End started life as a pretty, rural hamlet providing agricultural provisions to the city. Although it was originally part of the ancient parish of Stepney, Bethnal Green eventually became its own parish in 1743. Its first chapel was established as early as 1513, at which time the area was attracting many affluent families looking to escape from the city.

Traces of its rural origins, its subsequent light industry, weaving boom and its affluent past are all but gone now with aerial bombardments in WW2 having changed the landscape of Bethnal Green forever.


Netteswell House is one of the few remaining opulent residences from that long gone era.


A happy corner of London


The parish’s name is derived from Anglo-Saxon words which mean “happy corner”, and its coat of arms features the ‘blind beggar of Bethnal Green’, from an old legend which tells of a poor beggar who managed to raise a considerable dowry for his daughter’s wedding.


Those with a keen eye will be able to spot the blind beggar around Bethnal Green, permanently etched in local architecture and featuring in artwork displays. With so much optimism surrounding Bethnal Green’s history, it’s no wonder that the place is known for its diverse and vibrant character.


Attracting the hip homeowner


Only 20 minutes away from the West End on the Central Line, with Brick Lane and Spitalfields just around the corner, Bethnal Green is attracting a growing trendy crowd.


Younger house buyers are also drawn by house prices that are still over 17 per cent lower than the London average, despite the fact that property prices in Bethnal Green increased by over 14 per cent in the last year.


With the opening of boutique hotel ‘the Town Hall Hotel’ along with galleries on Vyner Street, the Museum of Childhood and quirky local markets, Bethnal Green appears to be on the cusp of a major culture change.


It’s taking a decidedly bold step away from its former reputation as East End slum and back towards its more affluent roots, but this time with a much more urban, eclectic vibe.


Bethnal Green is also filled with surprises in the most inconspicuous places, like the beautiful stained glass in the WW1 memorial windows at the Bethnal Green Library, the ornate entrance to Meath Gardens and the many sculptures adorning unassuming council buildings.


Daniel Mendoza, boxing champion of England from 1792 to 1795 and resident of Bethnal Green put the parish firmly on the boxing map too.


Bethnal Green is still well known for boxing today, with regular, prominent boxing events being held at the York Hall Victorian Spa and Swimming Pool, one of Britain’s best known boxing venues and home to the upmarket ‘London Spa’.


Any East End town wouldn’t be complete without its greasy spoon and, while it might be ‘on the up’, Bethnal Green stays true to its east-end soul as home to the mother of all “caffs”, E Pellicci. There you will find décor with an art-deco touch and banter until the cows come.


If you needed more evidence of its historical significance, E Pellicci is even listed by English Heritage! So if Bethnal Green sounds like the place for you, give our Bow office a call today.

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